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Sep 23, 2022

Brookdale Men’s Soccer Team ‘Upgraded in All Areas’

By Tim Morris

In his first year as the head coach of the Brookdale Community College men’s soccer team, Brad Fraley took the Blues to the Region 19 title game. They were just one win away from going to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III National Championship.

With that run to the Region final (where Brookdale lost 3-0 to Camden) in mind, Fraley, a former Brookdale player himself, revamped the Jersey Blues roster and is ready to take the Blues to the next step this fall.

“We’re a lot stronger than last year,” he said. “Our skill level is high, and we have depth. We’ve upgraded in all areas.”

Fraley pointed out that he had a full year to recruit for the 2022 season and has a roster of players from some of the top high school programs in the Shore Conference as well as college transfers to go along with a string of veterans from last year’s 10-5-1 club. It’s a team, Fraley believes, that could win the Region championship in 2022.

Building depth, Fraley noted, will help Brookdale relentless pressure throughout a match. The Blues like to play high-pressure defense in the opponent’s third of the pitch. The Blues’ depth will also help Brookdale out-work its opponents and wear them down throughout a 90-minute match.

Brookdale likes to build its attack from the back to the front, playing possession ball. If last year’s squad had one area that could be improved, it was the midfield which is crucial to possession. Fraley has taken care of that. The Blues are six or seven deep there this year with returning sophomores Liam Mulvey (Christian Brothers Academy), William LaBruno (Shore Regional) and James Schutz (Ocean Township) leading the way. Freshman Kaan Pehlivan (Monmouth Regional) is a key addition to the middle, and fellow newcomer Arturo Hernandez-Garcia (Long Branch) provides added depth.

For scoring, Brookdale is looking to sophomore Liam Stewart (Mater Dei Prep), last year’s leading scorer who totaled nine goals. Stewart shined in Brookdale’s Region Tournament run and was named to the All-Region and All-Garden State Athletic Conference Teams at season’s end.

Brookdale will be looking to get added production in support of Stewart from sophomore Augusto Bomtempo (Long Branch), sophomore Ryan Gannon (Neptune) and freshman Kristopher Maza (Howell).

On the backline, center backs Pedro Navorski (Fr., Notre Dame) and James Vassiliakos (So., Holmdel) are the centerpieces of the defense. Donovan Davis (Fr., Shore Regional), Janson Munoz (So., Long Branch), Jose Rincon (Fr., Long Branch), Kenneth Emerick (Fr., Howell) and Cesar Rojas Jimenez (Fr., Long Branch) give the unit numbers.

Sophomore Matt Tenhunen (Long Branch) returns in net.  He posted four shutouts last fall and had a 1.33 goals against average.

Fraley front-leaded the Blues schedule with their first four matches against Division I and Division II and teams. He knew it would take a few games for the team to gel, and it was best not to be playing Region 19 or Garden State Athletic Conference matches in that time. The quality of competition was just as important.

“I stacked the first four games because they need to see adversity,” Fraley explained. “Beating them is a bonus.”

When the matches that start count, the Blues will be ready.